There is a phrase we use in our church that holds immense personal meaning for me. We hear it in talks from the pulpit and from teachers in the classroom. We hear it in General Conference. We read it in our church magazines. I don’t think it’s only a part of the LDS culture. It’s found in other religions as well. Those who teach spirituality know it. The phrase is “being in tune.” Some equate it to a feeling of being “at one” with the universe. I’d like to share its significance to me.
A Lifetime of Prayer
I don’t know how you feel when you pray about questions, concerns, problems and the “stuff” of life. I only know how I experience prayer. Except for a few sporadic months as a teenager, I have been praying morning, noon, and night since I was a child. As a missionary we must have prayed a dozen times every day, sometimes more. I’ve prayed in private and public, at church, home and in the temple. I’ve prayed in thousands of homes over the years among all kinds of good people.
A Continual Prayer in the Heart
With over five decades of practice, you would think I would have it down by now – that is, how to pray and feel the sweet whisperings of the spirit and the promptings of the Lord. Well, there have been many sacred moments where I knew my prayer was heard and answered on the spot. But mostly, my prayers are answered over time. That’s why I talk to the Lord all day long. I try to remind Him, and myself, what it is I’m striving for – what I desire and have asked of Him.
Impressions, Thoughts and Ideas
During the day, I receive impressions about what to do or how to think about something I’ve been studying and pondering. A lot of it has to do with my work, which is to manage technology for others, but I also receive ideas and thoughts that help me as I attempt to develop both my spirituality and my theology. Those are two different things. One is relationship-based and the other is idea-based. Geoff’s comment on last week’s post got me thinking about what I’m doing.
Spirituality and Theology
But that, I mean, what I’m doing with my blog. For over six years, I’ve been writing about what I thought were interesting ideas about our religion and our faith in general. Oh, I’ve been very specific on some subjects that are not anywhere near to being settled by a general consensus. For example, when I first wrote about multiple mortal probations, I was totally opposed to it and said so. When I next wrote about it, I had done some additional reading and shared new observations.
Multiple Mortal Probations
In last week’s post I mentioned briefly in the comments that I had come around to believing there just may be something to the idea. I know the arguments against MMP because I made them in the earliest post – a book review of The Doctrine of Eternal Lives. I wrote it was a doctrine of devils and quoted Joseph who said so. Then I read The Unquiet Dead and You Have Been Here Before by Dr. Edith Fiore. Still opposed, I offered additional arguments against it.
An Example from Dr. Fiore
One story from Dr. Fiore’s first book has stuck with me. I have been pondering it for months. It involved a young lady, Becky, who had trouble with migraines. It’s the first clinical example she shared. You can read it in chapter two of the book. During hypnotic regression she related a detailed experience from a past life at age sixteen in which she left home because she was bored. I won’t share all the details other than to say she was killed with a club to the head by soldiers.
Choosing the Next Mortal Experience
In the present day, she suffered from terrible migraines and was referred to Dr. Fiore because they could find no physical cause of her symptoms. The thing I keep pondering is found in the penultimate chapter of Dr. Fiore’s book in which she summarizes the death experiences of her patients, including Becky. They relate how they were met by loved ones. They reviewed what they had learned in their life. They got to choose their next mortal experience to learn the most.
MMP Labeled Doctrine of Devils
OK, that’s enough to summarize the idea of multiple mortal probations. I don’t like to call it reincarnation but suppose you could if you’re more comfortable with that word. Remember, modern-day prophets have called it a doctrine of devils. As I related in a previous post, Joseph Smith kicked a visitor out of his home in Nauvoo who claimed to be reincarnated. He said in a past life he was Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. Joseph called him a liar.
A Reader’s Thoughtful Question
As reader “log” wrote in the comments of last week’s post: “I pose the same query to all who preach MMP and have not yet been answered – if the resurrection is universal (D&C 88:14–32, Alma 40:5), and if the resurrection is permanent (Alma 11:45), then how do you get MMP?” That is a great question to which I don’t know the answer other than to suggest these MMP experiences are pre-resurrection. Trust me log, I have been pondering and praying about this.
The Course of the Lord
We know that all things are present before God. In other words there is no time in the sense that we measure it here. He knows all things from the beginning to the end of our mortal journey(s). As I have prayed about this idea, I have decided one could interpret the scripture, “the course of the Lord is one eternal round” to be specifically referring to MMP until we reach perfection. In other words, we can not only choose our next life experience, but choose when it occurs in time.
Not Essential to Salvation
OK, that’s far enough out there. This is a mental exercise. This is not essential to your salvation. It does not matter if you believe in MMP or not. What matters is what you do with this life. Now I want to tie this back to the introductory comments about “being in tune.” I don’t write this stuff to be provocative. I write it because I have prayed about something and want to explore it with others. I’m not a theologian, philosopher or credentialed academic. I’m just a simple Mormon.
Most Important Thing in Prayer
Let’s consider prayer for a moment, specifically answers to prayer and the feeling of being in tune. Ponder with me the process you use in prayer to determine for yourself what truth is for you and what is important. If there’s anything I’m more concerned about when I pray, I can’t think what it might be other than to know if I am pursuing the path God wants me to follow. You can read about the importance of that knowledge in the Lectures on Faith. I’ll say it’s critical.
Lectures on Faith Are Helpful
It’s one thing to believe that God actually exists. It’s another thing to have a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes. More importantly, it’s imperative that we obtain an actual knowledge the course of life which we are pursuing is in accordance with God’s will. And that, my friends, is what life is all about, at least for me. I yearn to know and do my Father’s will. I wholeheartedly desire to be obedient and submissive to what He asks, but first must know it.
Describing Spiritual Communion
For me, knowing my Father’s will has come in prayer, over and over again. I study out a subject about which I believe my Father wants me to know. I ponder it, I decide what I believe. I often ask my readers what they think. I then ask in prayer if I am on the right path and wait for that special sacred feeling I can barely describe. The closest description I have ever been able to provide is to say it feels like the world around me is oscillating and my spirit or mind with it.
Causes my Soul to Vibrate
It’s as if someone has touched my soul and made it sing. When I am in tune, I vibrate with the eternities and the cosmos. It doesn’t have to occur in prayer. It can happen in the temple, sitting in church or singing in the choir. This feeling of being in tune is rare enough I know it is from a sacred source. It requires intense concentration and an ability to “let go” and relax at the same time. The feeling is so intense and pleasurable I feel as if my spirit is about to leave my body.
Burning of the Bosom
It is almost always accompanied by a feeling of warmth in my chest. In spite of what Elder Oaks taught over the pulpit in General Conference that he did not feel caloric heat in connection with the burning of the bosom, I do. I always have. It is accompanied by a feeling of comfort and of serenity. It is what I long for because I know it is what I need. It feeds my soul. It brings peace that passes all understanding. And yet, it is but a precursor to even greater spiritual experiences.
Greater Spiritual Experiences
I have not had those greater spiritual experiences yet other than dreams, visions and the gift of prophecy as related to my own life. Some call it the mind’s eye. I have seen myself doing or heard myself saying or teaching certain things before they have come to pass, sometimes years in advance. I have seen events from the present day decades ago. They are personal and sacred but I have shared them previously on my blog, particularly as I described how I proposed to my wife.
Being Instructed by Angels
I have not seen an angel other than my parents in dreams. My father told me of seeing an angel standing at the bedside of his critically injured wife, my mother, after a car accident that almost took her life. I have related that previously in my blog. We each have different spiritual gifts, but they must be sought after and developed even if they are promised in a patriarchal blessing. Mine talks about my home being a sacred place and a fit abode for heavenly visitations. I desire that.
The Miracle of the Mind’s Eye
Like others, I have seen in vision the night of the atonement and what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane. I was not taught the things Denver related in his book, Come, Let Us Adore Him. In my case, I was shown how the pain was inflicted and how the evil and unclean spirits were allowed to torture and torment Him for a few hours. The anguish was real because someone so pure and holy had to experience the feelings that come from sin, disobedience and suffering.
A Recent Experience in Prayer
My soul was touched Sunday night in prayer as I poured out my sorrows and grief to my Father over feelings of being overwhelmed by physical pain I continue to suffer each day. I asked if I would be healed. He assured me that I would be in time. Actually, what He said is that I would rise above it. In other words, the pain may not leave me, or the cause may not be discovered or removed, but I would develop strength of will and mental discipline to be able to endure it.
Why Sickness May Not Be Removed
That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted to be told, “I will take it away.” Perhaps my faith is not sufficient for that sort of healing or perhaps removing it would defeat the purpose of my life. Perhaps this is something I chose with Father’s counsel as the best way to learn faith or humility. Perhaps it is simply part of life. As we age, our body chemistry changes. We begin to feel less energetic or enthusiastic about tiring physical activities or brain-draining mental exercises.
Greeting Ceremony With Christ
The challenge I see for me is to use what remaining time I have left to achieve that long sought-after goal of being prepared to enter into the presence of the Lord. I am convinced it can happen in mortality. I am convinced we should seek for it. I am convinced we should ask over and over, to weary the Lord with our request to be sealed unto Him, to become his son or daughter and to hear Him say, “This day have I begotten thee.” Denver mentions there is a greeting ceremony or “Ceremony of Recognition.”
Sacrifice is Required
I have written enough this day. I have written what was in my heart. This post is not about MMP. It is about receiving the Holy Ghost as your guide, being taught by angels, coming unto Christ and being prepared to be presented to the Father. Where am I on the ladder? I asked the Lord and he told me. He even gave me the number of years before I am ready. Yes, I have years to go. Apparently there are tests and sacrifices required of me which I haven’t imagined. Will I pass? Will you?